Naturalism in Epistemology and the Philosophy of Law
- Mark Greenberg
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In this paper, I challenge an influential understanding of naturalization according to which work on traditional problems in the philosophy of law should be replaced with sociological or psychological explanations of how judges decide cases. W.V. Quine famously proposed the ‘naturalization of epistemology’. In a prominent series of papers and a book, Brian Leiter has raised the intriguing idea that Quine’s naturalization of epistemology is a useful model for philosophy of law. I examine Quine’s naturalization of epistemology and Leiter’s suggested parallel and argue that the parallel does not hold up. Even granting Leiter’s substantive assumption that the law is indeterminate, there is no philosophical confusion or overreaching in the legal case that is parallel to the philosophical overreaching of Cartesian foundationalism in epistemology. Moreover, if we take seriously Leiter’s analogy, the upshot is almost the opposite of what Leiter suggests. The closest parallel in the legal case to Quine’s position would be the rejection of the philosophical positions that lead to the indeterminacy thesis.
- Greenberg, M., ‘Implications of Indeterminacy: Naturalism in Epistemology and the Philosophy of Law II’, (Naturalism II), Law and Philosophy, (2011). doi:10.1007/s10982-011-9110-5
- Leiter, B: 1995: “Legal Indeterminacy,” Legal Theory, 1, pp. 481-492. CrossRef
- Leiter B 1997: “Rethinking Legal Realism: Toward a Naturalized Jurisprudence,” Texas Law Review, 76, pp. 267-315.
- Leiter 1998: “Naturalism and Naturalized Jurisprudence,” in Brian Bix, ed., Analyzing Law: New Essays in Legal Theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Leiter B 2001: “Legal Realism and Legal Positivism Reconsidered,” Ethics, 111, pp. 278-301. CrossRef
- Leiter B 2007: Naturalizing Jurisprudence: Essays on American Legal Realism and Naturalism in Legal Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Quine, W. V. O., ‘Two Dogmas of Empiricism’, in From a Logical Point of View (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1953).
- Quine, W.V.O. 1960: Word and Object. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Quine, W. V. O., ‘Epistemology Naturalized’, in Ontological Relativity and Other Essays (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969).
- Quine W.V.O. 1990: The Pursuit of Truth. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Quine, W. V. O., ‘Words Are All We Have to Go On’, Times Literary Supplement, July 3, 1992, p. 8.
- Quine, W. V. O. and Ullian, J. (1970) The Web of Belief, Second Edition. New York: Random House.
- Naturalism in Epistemology and the Philosophy of Law
Law and Philosophy
Volume 30, Issue 4 , pp 419-451
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- Mark Greenberg (1)
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- 1. Department of Philosophy and School of Law, UCLA, Box 951476, Los Angeles, CA, 90095-1476, USA